Sony Xperia Miro £159
17th Oct 2012 | 12:14
Sony's second budget handset in as many months - does it do enough to stand out?
It seems like only yesterday that we were putting the Sony Xperia Tipo through its paces, but here already, with just the smallest of spec boosts, is the Sony Xperia Miro.
The entry-level smartphone market is becoming increasingly crowded as it is, so it's a surprise that Sony has seen fit to release two handsets that, on paper at any rate, are incredibly similar.
That it has launched them so close together is even more baffling, and surely risks rendering one of them obsolete.
It's not just the Sony Xperia Tipo it's got to contend with, either. The boost in specs has brought with it a boost in price, as you can currently pick the Sony Xperia Miro up for £159/AU$240/US$239.99 SIM-free. This price range puts it in competition with the similarly styled Sony Xperia U and the HTC Wildfire S.
So, does the Sony Xperia Miro do enough to justify its price tag? Well, first impressions aren't great. The Sony Xperia Miro has a 3.5-inch 320 x 480 display, which is on the small side these days, particularly when cheaper handsets such as the Huawei Ascend G300 pack a 4-inch display.
But coming from the Sony Xperia Tipo, it actually feels like quite a jump in size - it's only 0.3 inches bigger, but the difference is surprisingly noticeable.
A few of its other specs have been boosted above those of the Xperia Tipo too, though they're still fairly modest. It retains an 800MHz single core processor with 512MB of RAM.
Its camera sees a boost in megapixels, up to 5 megapixels, versus the Xperia Tipo's 3.15MP snapper. It can shoot VGA video at 30fps and comes with 4GB of storage, only 2.2GB of which is useable. On the plus side it supports microSD cards of up to 32GB.
It comes running Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, which isn't the latest build but it isn't too far behind.
Despite having a name that aligns it with the Tipo, the Sony Xperia Miro eschews its sibling's rounded edges in favour of a rectangular look in line with the more premium Sony Xperia U, Sony Xperia P, Sony Xperia T and Sony Xperia S.
However, if the aim was to make it seem more premium, it wasn't entirely successful. At first glance the Sony Xperia Miro does look like a better - or at least more expensive - phone than the Sony Xperia Tipo.
The more angular, less chunky form factor on the Sony Xperia Miro gives it a touch of class, but as soon as you pick it up you find that looks can be deceiving.
It's lightweight at 110g (0.24lbs), but with dimensions of 113 x 59.4 x 9.9mm (4.4 x 2.3 x 0.4 inches) it's not a tiny handset, and this makes it feel odd when held.
Your brain tells you it shouldn't be that light, like it's an imposter, or what every phone manufacturer dreads hearing - that it's a toy.
That impression isn't helped by the cheap, plasticky feel of the handset. Yes, most phones have a plastic shell of some kind, but there's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it, and the Sony Xperia Miro most definitely does it wrong. It feels like a toy. An expensive toy, but still a toy.
Below the screen you'll find three soft-touch buttons. These are the home button in the centre, the back button on the left and the menu button on the right.
Below that there's a blue light that appears when you wake up the phone or when you receive a text or call. You can't even tell it's there when it's off and when it's on it looks good, extending out across much of the width of the phone. It's also incredibly useful, and we applaud Sony for supporting this feature when so few other manufacturers do.
Below that the body curves inwards slightly and is adorned with the word 'Xperia'.
Above the screen there's a proximity sensor, another notification light, the front camera lens and a speaker. There's a 3.5mm headphone port on the top edge, along with a small power button.
Given that the power button is also used to wake and lock the handset we do wish it was a little bigger, but that's a minor issue.
A volume rocker lives on the right edge and the micro USB port is on the left edge. The main camera and another speaker can be found on the back.
There's a little notch at the bottom of the handset to peel the back cover off, and doing so just compounds the feeling of cheapness as the cover itself is revealed to be very thin plastic.
Underneath you'll find the battery, along with the SIM card and microSD card slots. Unfortunately not only do you need to remove the back cover to swap out a microSD card, but also the battery.
Granted, it's a minority of users that will need more than one card, but for those that do this is an unfortunate inconvenience. Given the tiny amount of storage on the Xperia Miro it would be nice if Sony had done more to ease expansion.
Overall the Sony Xperia Miro doesn't make the most amazing first impression, seeming like little more than a Sony Xperia Tipo with a slightly bigger screen.
The Sony Xperia Miro continues to disappoint when you turn it on, with a screen that while bigger than the Xperia Tipo's is no higher resolution.
This leads to a low pixel density (165ppi).
It's not terrible, but it is noticeable, because neither text nor images are as crisp and sharp as they could be.
The lock screen has the standard Xperia layout of a big clock at the top with the date below it and a two way slider at the bottom.
Swipe it right to unlock the phone or left to launch the camera. You can also drag the notification bar down to view any reminders, access the settings screen or act on missed calls and texts.
Once on the home screen you'll find a selection of widgets already up and running, and these are of varying usefulness.
On the one had you get the likes of a weather widget and a music controller, both of which are certainly appreciated, though you may find you want to replace them with alternatives once you've had a look around Google Play.
On the other hand, it also comes with a widget that just advertises various apps and games from Sony's own stores.
We can't see that one surviving more than a few minutes on most people's home screens.
In the dock at the bottom of each home screen you'll find an icon that takes you to the app drawer.
All of your apps live here and can be sorted alphabetically, by most used, recently installed or in a custom order.
Of course you can also place apps on home screens and in folders.
You'll also be able to access your text messages, dialler and Sony's music store from icons in the dock, though you can move things around if you prefer.
The final icon that's in the dock by default is a media folder, with the camera, music player, radio and photo album inside it.
Pinching any home screen brings up a screen with all your active widgets, and tapping any of them will bring you to the screen it's on.
We'd have thought it would make more sense to launch the related application.
Alternatively, if it's intended as a way of jumping between home screens then showing a thumbnail of each home screen would make more sense than just showing the widgets.
As it is, its usefulness seems pretty limited, but if there are any widgets that you regularly want quick access to then you may find it beneficial.
Long-pressing empty space on a home screen will bring up a menu that enables you to place widgets, applications, folders and shortcuts, as well as changing the wallpaper or theme.
The themes on offer seem to just be wallpapers, providing an abstract background in one of a number of colours.
They don't change application icons or fonts as you might expect them to, but in a nice touch they do change the colour of the main notification light to match them.
Tapping the menu key from a home screen gives you access to the same set of options, along with the settings screen.
Long pressing an icon enables you to drag it around, or if you drag it to the bottom of the screen you can delete it, while dragging to the top enables you to share it when applicable.
Being Android 4.0.4, the Sony Xperia Miro's operating system is about as intuitive as Android has ever been.
And Sony's overlay doesn't stray too far from the stock experience, doing little to help or hinder its intuitiveness.
That's a good thing, in our opinion.
There was a time when Android was still finding its feet and manufacturers' UI's were desirable because they often fixed any shortcomings of the system.
But stock Android has hit its stride now, and too much meddling is likely to hurt the experience.
Swiping between home screens is often a bit jerky, and you're limited to just five (unless you replace Sony's launcher with one from Google Play).
Five home screens isn't likely to go far for most users, since just two widgets can potentially take up a whole screen, and that's before you've filled them with apps and folders.
The jerkiness is disappointing too. We might expect it if we were running a processor-intensive game, but moving between home screens is one of the most basic operations that a smartphone needs to be able to do.
The touchscreen itself feels surprisingly resistive.
Not to the extent of say the Samsung Tocco Lite 2, where it actually impacted our ability to use it, but enough to leave it feeling slightly unpleasant and stiff.
It's all the more surprising because we didn't have this problem with the Sony Xperia Tipo despite it being a lower-end handset in the same range.
Contacts and calling
Tapping on either the contacts or phone icons on the Sony Xperia Miro will take you to the same set of screens.
The only difference is which one you start on.
The phone takes you to the dial pad, while contacts takes you to the address book, but there are icons at the bottom of either screen to switch between them.
You can also access groups from here, and there doesn't appear to be a separate icon for that.
The Sony Xperia Miro supports smart dialling, so once you start tapping out a number on the dial pad, suggestions will appear at the top of the screen.
Call logs also appear on this screen, and you can minimise the dial pad to get a better overview of them.
Pressing the menu button here enables you to hide the call log if you'd prefer, and you can also set up speed dial - assigning contacts to any number from 2 to 9, with 1 being used for voicemail.
The contacts screen displays entries in alphabetical order, though you can sort the list by first or last name and filter contacts, for example to only show those with phone numbers or only show those who are currently online.
Tapping the menu button enables you to backup, import or delete contacts, as well as sharing them over Bluetooth, SMS, email or Evernote.
Tapping a contact brings up their details and enables you to call, text, email or IM them.
It's a shame you have to go into their information to call them rather than being able to do it straight from the main contacts screen, but smart dialling, speed dial and favourites provide plenty of other speedy calling options.
There's a search bar at the top of the contacts screen, making it quick to find a specific contact if your address book is heaving.
Next to that there's a button that enables you to add a new contact.
Doing so is straightforward and provides a lot of options, such as their address, multiple emails, instant messengers, notes, custom ringtones and the ability to send their calls straight to voicemail.
If you want to keep things simple and just add a name and phone number, that's no problem either.
You can also sync contacts with your Google account, keeping them backed up and easily accessible from other devices.
The only real omission is social network integration.
Instant messaging services such as Windows Live, Skype and Yahoo are integrated from the contacts screen, but Facebook is totally absent.
From the groups screen you can access favourites and groups, as well as creating new ones.
It's a fairly standard implementation, with thumbnail images for each favourite person and various contact options appearing once you tap on them.
The groups option enables you to essentially sort your address book into categories and send group emails and texts.
When a call comes through, a large image of the caller will pop up on the screen (assuming they're in your address book and have an image assigned) and you'll have the option to either accept the call with a swipe to the right, reject it with a swipe to the left or reject it with a message by swiping upwards.
Once on a call, the image of the caller remains, overlaid with their name and the call duration.
Below it there are options to mute the call, turn on speaker phone, access the dial pad, access your address book or end the call.
As with most other screens, you can also pull down the notifications bar from here.
Of course there's no need to even stay on the call screen.
Pressing the home button will return you to the home screen, enabling you to navigate the phone without interrupting the call.
Returning to the call screen - which you might want to do to hang up, for example - is done by either pressing the phone icon or pulling down the notifications bar and tapping on the active call.
Call clarity was decent throughout our use, with neither us nor those on the other end of the line having any issues being heard. We had no dropped calls either.
Text messages on the Sony Xperia Miro can be accessed and sent from the messaging app, which is found in the dock (unless you move it).
Opening the app will bring you to the last screen you were on, but the top level screen is a list of all your current conversations.
This is listed by most recent, and each conversation has the name of the person you were messaging, along with the first few words of the most recent message you sent or received.
Above the list there's a 'New Message' button, for messaging people that you haven't messaged previously.
It also enables you to message multiple people or simply save you the effort of scrolling through the list of conversations to find the person you want to message.
You can send emails and IMs to contacts from here too, and these will also appear in the conversations list, though they'll all be given a separate entry.
So, for example, emails to a contact will be listed as a separate conversation from texts to the same contact.
Sadly there's no social network integration here, which is a real missed opportunity.
Long pressing a conversation enables you to delete it, while hitting the menu key from the conversations list enables you to delete multiple conversations at once or search for a specific message.
It also gives access to a settings screen with a number of options, such as turning delivery reports on or off and changing the notification tone.
Tapping on a conversation opens it, enabling you to scroll through previous messages and send new ones.
The keyboard is fairly accurate, and unlike its little brother the Xperia Tipo, the screen on the Sony Xperia Miro is just big enough that text entry isn't cramped or awkward.
The keyboard works well in both landscape and portrait mode, though landscape mode conceals all previous messages in exchange for giving you a bigger keyboard.
There's also a voice input option, but this was slow and not always very accurate.
Tapping on a contact's name at the top of this screen enables you to call them, while long pressing a message gives options for copying, deleting or forwarding it.
An icon to the right of the text entry box enables you to add photos, videos or sounds to the message, and pressing the menu key from this screen enables you to add or edit recipients, delete the conversation or add a subject to the current message.
Messages and missed calls will cause the notification light to come on, making it very hard to miss things for long. We've said before that this really is a great feature that rounds out the whole messaging experience.
Even better, the actual light on the Sony Xperia Miro manages to look pretty stylish, sending a beam out across the width of the phone.
Plus changing the theme will change its colour, so if the default blue isn't doing it for you then you can switch it to purple, gold, green and more.
While emails can be sent from the text message application, in general you'll want to use the dedicated email apps for that.
First up there's the standard Gmail app that comes with most Android handsets. That's fine, because not only will it be instantly familiar coming from other Android phones, but it's also very good.
Composing emails is a breeze, as is reading them. Its only failing is in not resizing emails to fit the screen, meaning you'll often have to zoom out or scroll around to read a message in its entirety.
The other email app seems to be one of Sony's own devising, and it will take a bit longer to set up because you'll need to manually add accounts to it, but once it's up and running it seems almost as good as Google's offering.
Both composing and reading email is generally stress-free. The only downside to it is that the layout is slightly different to the Gmail app, which makes switching between them a bit jarring.
So if you use both Gmail and other emails then you might be best off sticking with this app for all of them, because Gmail is supported on it.
The Sony Xperia Miro comes with the standard selection of internet connection options, specifically Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, HSDPA at 7.2Mbps and HSUPA at 5.76Mbps.
It also supports Wi-Fi direct and can be used as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.
It comes with the stock Android browser, though it's certainly not at its smoothest here.
Stick to mobile sites and it's suitably zippy, but loading desktop sites generally takes around eight seconds over Wi-Fi and considerably longer over 3G.
Zooming and scrolling are both a bit jerky, with it seeming to take a second or two to catch up.
The screen is a reasonable size for browsing, but the low resolution doesn't do it any favours.
The keyboard is pretty accurate though, so typing in web addresses and posting on forums is handled well.
The browser also generally does a good job of auto-fitting pages to the screen, which helps make web browsing a more pleasant experience.
The address bar can be found at the top of the page, and to the right of that you can access your tabs - enabling you to switch between them and open and close them.
You can also access the bookmarks screen from here.
Long pressing an image enables you to save it, while long pressing a link gives options to open it in a new tab or copy the URL.
If you've used pretty much any other Android phone you'll be familiar with the options available on the browser.
Hitting the menu button enables you to access your bookmarks or save the current page to them.
You can also share the page, save it for offline reading and access the settings screen.
The Sony Xperia Miro's browser settings screen, as you might expect, is where the bulk of the options live.
There's a ton of things you can do from here, including but not limited to telling the browser to automatically fill in forms, clear history and cookies, change the default text size and turn images off to decrease loading times and data use.
The bookmarks page shows an image of each bookmark, and these can be synced to your Gmail account so that they're accessible from multiple devices.
You can also access your history and saved pages from here.
It's a solid browser, but there are plenty of alternatives available from Google Play if you don't get on with it, including the arguably superior Google Chrome.
Packing a 5MP sensor, the camera on the Sony Xperia Miro is about par for the course for a phone in this price bracket.
It's a fairly standard offering in terms of options too, with a handful of scene modes such as landscape, night and document.
You can also change the white balance, metering and exposure value, turn the flash on or off, set up a self timer and set whether to tap to focus or autofocus.
It's not the most comprehensive set of options, but it should be enough for casual snappers. Changing the options is straightforward as well, and all the options are overlaid on top of the camera screen, so you can see changes as they happen.
More disappointing is how long it takes to actually take a photo. There's often a several second delay between pressing the button and the image actually being captured, which is annoying for a couple of reasons.
First off, if you're taking a lot of photos it will slow things down considerably and could get quite annoying.
Secondly, it limits the camera's usefulness for capturing a specific moment that might only last a few seconds - such as a bird in flight.
Once you do take a photo, you'll find that the quality is generally reasonable. It's nothing close to what you could achieve with an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy S3 of course, but those handsets both cost substantially more.
Compared to other handsets in its price range, such as the Sony Xperia U and the HTC Wildfire S, the Sony Xperia Miro holds its own on camera performance. It doesn't outperform them, but it doesn't get shown up either.
Ultimately it's a decent enough camera, but it won't be replacing your dedicated compact camera.
Extreme close ups come out incredibly blurry, but pull back a little and the camera is capable of sharp, detail-rich images.
Bright light inevitably washes out affected areas, but colours remain natural and it doesn't overly flood the image.
Without a flash, dark rooms lack detail and display a substantial amount of noise.
With flash, the same image is considerably brighter and displays more accurate colours. However, it still suffers from noise and lack of detail.
Even with night mode activated, the Sony Xperia Miro's camera struggles to make much out in the dark.
Document mode isn't always as crisp as we'd like, but small text is still perfectly readable.
The camera on the Sony Xperia Miro struggles to pick out details on landscapes. Viewed on the phone they look great, but blowing them up yields disappointing results.
Video is definitely not the Sony Xperia Miro's strong point. The best it can manage is VGA, and that's just not even YouTube quality these days.
We didn't expect 1080p, but 720p would have at least made the video camera worthwhile. As it is, we'd be surprised if many people bother with it at all.
The one thing we will say in its favour is that when played on the 3.5-inch screen of the Sony Xperia Miro, videos just about hold up. They don't look great, but they're watchable. Viewed on a computer or any other larger screen, though, they just become a blur.
Despite its poor quality, there are a few settings to play with in the Sony Xperia Miro's video camera. These are much the same as what's on offer for still photos, with several scene modes such as landscape and sports and the option to alter the metering, exposure value and white balance.
You can also turn photo light on or off and set a self timer. It's a respectable set of options, but we can't help but feel that they're wasted on this camera.
Whenever a phone comes with as little storage as the Sony Xperia Miro (just 2.2GB of useable space), we're tempted to assume that its media experience is going to be lacking, since there's not going to be room for much media on there.
In this case, that would be a mistake.
There's a media folder right on the dock, and that can be taken as a statement of intent. This is a phone that wants to do media well.
Walkman is perhaps the most impressive of the Sony Xperia Miro's various media apps.
This of course is the music player, and you couldn't ask for much more from a bundled app.
Tracks can be sorted by song, artist or album and played individually or shuffled.
Playlists can be created and accessed with ease, and playlists for newly added, most played and never played songs are included out of the box. You can also favourite songs.
There's an option to search for music and a SensMe option, which enables you to pick a style of music, for example 'mellow' or 'emotional', and it will attempt to play music from your library that fits that style.
You can also access Sony's subscription-based Music Unlimited service from here, though, oddly, the app doesn't appear to be included on the phone, and clicking on it for the first time just directs you to download it from Google Play.
Music that friends have shared on Facebook can also be viewed on the handset, though generally the Sony Xperia Miro just gives you a link to play the song on YouTube, for example.
It's surprising that Sony has integrated Facebook at all though, given that it omitted it from the contacts and messaging apps, where it would have been an obvious fit.
Once you play a track, the associated picture all but fills the screen.
Meanwhile, below it you get the standard, play, pause, next track and previous track controls.
There's also a bar showing how far through the song you are, and dragging that will jump forwards or backwards in it.
The more interesting options are slightly more hidden away.
Long-pressing a track image enables you to like it on Facebook, while tapping a button on the top-right enables you to search for the video on YouTube, search Google for the lyrics and find artist info on Wikipedia.
Hitting the menu key enables you to turn shuffle and repeat on or off and edit the track info.
More significantly, though, it enables you to access a sound enhancements screen, where you can mess with an equaliser to tailor the sound to your liking.
Or if that sounds too much like hard work you can select from one of a number of presets, such as 'easy listening' or 'bass boost'.
If you're listening to music through headphones you can also customise the surround sound experience, making it sound like a studio or a concert hall, for example.
On the other hand, if you're listening to the music through the Sony Xperia Miro's speakers, you can turn xLOUD on or off.
Sony's xLOUD system boosts the volume without distorting it and the result is pretty good, producing fairly loud and clear music.
There's also a widget for the player, enabling you to perform basic functions from both the home and lock screen.
Next up is the video player, and while it's not quite as full featured as the music player, it still does a fairly good job.
When you first open it you're presented with thumbnails of all your video files.
Tapping one will bring up the run time and file size, along with information on it provided by Gracenote (assuming it can find any) - this takes the form of a synopsis or description, a cast list and the year of production.
From there you can tap on the play icon to launch the video. Options here are limited to play, pause and stretching it to fit the screen.
As with the music player, there is also a progress bar that you can drag to jump ahead or back in the video.
Pressing the menu button enables you to turn xLOUD on or off if playing it through the speakers, turn surround sound on or off if played through headphones, or share the video via Bluetooth, Facebook, email and more.
You can even upload videos to YouTube from the player.
You can also use DLNA to stream the video to other supported devices on the same network.
Actually watching videos on the Sony Xperia Miro is a bit of a disappointment, since the screen is still on the small side and the low resolution becomes even more apparent.
It's also less comfortable to hold for extended periods than its little brother the Sony Xperia Tipo, thanks to the comparatively sharp corners.
Its light weight feel does help it out here though, meaning that at least it won't weigh you down.
The Sony Xperia Miro claims to support MP4, MP3, eAAC+, WAV, H.263 and H.264 files.
And for the most part it seemed to play them fine.
The only exception was that the video player didn't want to play one of our MP4 files.
But if you run into any trouble there are always alternate players available from Google Play, and some of these genuinely support just about anything you can throw at them.
Photos are accessed from the album, and this sorts them by date.
You can also view a map from here, and any photos with location data will be tagged on this.
By default it uses a 2D map, but you can also toggle a 3D view, giving you an image of the entire globe that can be rotated to find your photos.
Pressing the Sony Xperia Miro's menu key when viewing an image gives options to set it as your wallpaper or assign it to a contact, rotate it and crop it or view a slide show.
More impressively, there's also a built-in photo editor that's accessible from here.
It's not that in-depth, but it still packs in quite a few options.
You can auto-fix an image, which does a reasonable job of brightening and cleaning up images.
If you want to get more hands on, you can add highlights and effects, change the saturation and remove red eye.
Finally there's the FM radio, and this was a bit of a weak link simply because it failed to pick up a lot of the stations we'd have expected it to. We're not sure why that is, but it was certainly disappointing.
Once you actually do find a station that it can play, you have a few options.
You can choose to play through the speakers or headphones, favourite stations and ask Sony's TrackID service to look up songs for you.
This works in much the same way as Shazam, but it's conveniently built into the player, and once you find a track you can comment on it and share it.
Other than the radio, the only real disappointment with the Sony Xperia Miro's media abilities is the lack of built in storage. Sure you can expand it with a microSD card, but it would be nice if there was enough space to load it up with music out of the box.
That aside, it's a formidable music player. And aside from the limitations of the screen, it also makes for a solid video player and photo viewer and editor.
Battery life and connectivity
The Sony Xperia Miro has an impressively decent battery life. It only has a 1,500mAh battery, which wouldn't go far on some handsets, but thanks to a small screen and low specs - you know, the things that are otherwise seen as a negative - it gets the job done.
In standby it seemed to generally drop less than 1% an hour, even with Wi-Fi on and emails and Facebook alerts being pushed to the phone. In other words, if you're not using it much it will keep on going for a long, long time.
But there's little point in having a smartphone if you're not going to make use of all its features, and thankfully the battery performs pretty well even with moderately heavy use.
We never had a problem getting through the day - and that was with us putting it through its paces to test it out. Photos, videos, web browsing, calls, texts and games can all be done in moderation on a single charge.
Sony claims that the Xperia Miro can manage up to 545 hours of standby time over 3G, up to six hours of talk time and up to 36 hours and 30 minutes of music.
The six hours of talk time over 3G seems about right in our experience.
We're slightly less convinced about the 545 hours of standby time, but it will certainly keep on chugging for days.
In our own battery test - running a 90 minute video with the screen at full brightness and everything set to push notifications - having started at full battery the Sony Xperia Miro had dropped to 76% by the end, which isn't bad at all.
The Sony Xperia Miro doesn't skimp on connections, either, with Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA support, Bluetooth 2.1, HSDPA at 7.2Mbps and HSUPA at 5.76Mbps.
It even supports Wi-Fi direct and can be used as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.
These connections are all very easy to set up, with options in the settings screen for most of them. The exception to this is DLNA, but while that seems to be absent from the settings screen, it's built right into the video player.
You can plug the Sony Xperia Miro into a PC using the micro USB port, and from there it mounts itself as a drive.
Then it's just a matter of dragging and dropping to move content to and from the device, just like a normal USB drive. This is a fairly standard option on Android, but it makes moving files around incredibly simple.
Of course there are other options too. Apps can be downloaded straight from Google Play, and most of the major cloud storage services have their own apps, making it easy to access any content stored online.
Maps and apps
Like just about every Android phone, the Sony Xperia Miro comes with Google Maps.
That might be both standard and expected, but it's also a very good thing.
Google Maps is one of the best free mapping services out there, and not using it is a recipe for disaster, as Apple Maps revealed recently.
Google Maps is feature packed, accurate and regularly updated.
The GPS locks on fast and has support for offline viewing, Google Street view built in, traffic and terrain information.
And with accurate directions for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users too, it's unlikely you'll ever need to use anything else for your general mapping needs.
It even includes a surprisingly good sat nav in the form of Google Navigation.
The service is still in Beta, but we've had no problems with it beyond occasionally being sent on a slightly suspect route, and it always got us where we were going.
If for any reason you don't get on with it, there are plenty of other sat nav and mapping options available from Google Play, of both the free and paid variety.
The Sony Xperia Miro comes with a fair few apps pre-loaded.
Many of these are things that would otherwise be available from Google Play, such as Amazon, TripAdvisor and Evernote.
They're generally quite useful things that you would likely want anyway, but if you don't then they're easy enough to delete.
Additionally, there's a small selection of Google apps, such as YouTube, Play Movies and Play Books.
However, Sony has also included a handful of its own apps, the highlight of which is undoubtedly TrackID, which works in much the same way as Shazam - identifying music and then providing links to download it or find it on YouTube.
It seems pretty accurate, too. There's also a power saver app that could come in handy, because it enables you to set up profiles that will turn off various services when the battery hits a certain level.
Less usefully, Sony has included its PlayNow store, which sells apps, music and games.
With Google Play as well stocked as it is we'd say it's superfluous to requirements, but it's there if you want it.
There's also a calendar app that can be synced with Facebook and Gmail, a basic calculator and an alarm clock.
The clock works fine for alarms but it would be nice if it had a stop watch or timer function built in too. Alas, it does not.
Many of the built-in apps can be used as widgets, which is appreciated.
And while it's a decent selection, there are hundreds of thousands more available on Google Play that should help fill any gaps in functionality.
Hands on gallery
The Sony Xperia Miro is oddly positioned. At first glance it seems like a low- to mid-end phone that should slot into the gap between the Sony Xperia Tipo and the Sony Xperia U. Take a closer look, though, and it's not that simple.
While it has a bigger screen, better camera and higher price tag than the Xperia Tipo, the screen is also more resistive and the phone chugs more when navigating home screens.
On the other hand, while the Xperia U has a faster processor and better video, it doesn't have a microSD card slot, which the Sony Xperia Miro does.
Things don't become any clearer when you consider the name and form factor. The name aligns it with the Sony Xperia Tipo but its body is styled similarly to Sony's higher end range of single letter handsets such as the Sony Xperia U and the Sony Xperia P.
In short, it seems to be a phone with an identity crisis, which is a dangerous position to be in when entering an overcrowded market.
The Sony Xperia Miro handles media and especially music really well. It has a comprehensive player, full of options for sorting and sharing your music.
Plus there's the ability to tweak the way it sounds in various ways, and Sony's xLoud technology ensuring that it sounds good even through the handset's tiny speakers.
Battery life is pretty good too. Unless you're on the phone non-stop you'll easily get a day's use out of it, and it will often stretch to two days.
There's a bunch of connectivity options including DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot and even Wi-Fi direct. It also takes a decent stab at messaging and calls, with smart dialling and speed dial options plus a snazzy notification light for missed calls and texts.
The screen on the Sony Xperia Miro is a huge let down. It's low resolution, and even worse it feels resistive and sluggish to the touch. This is a real disappointment given that the lower-end Sony Xperia Tipo had no such problems.
The handset also struggles a bit with even basic operations, often noticeably lagging during home screen transitions. The video camera is basically a write off, and the build quality is underwhelming, leaving it feeling cheap and entirely too much like a toy.
The Sony Xperia Miro is an underwhelming and uninspired handset. It also doesn't seem to know what it wants to be.
It's substantially more expensive than the Xperia Tipo, yet in some ways it's a worse performer. Equally, for only a little more you could pick up a Sony Xperia U, and if you can live with its tiny hard drive it's undoubtedly a better handset.
Or don't get a Sony phone at all. The HTC Wildfire S is similarly priced and slightly better, while for a little more you could pick up a Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 and get substantially more bang for your buck.
However you look at it, the Sony Xperia Miro becomes hard to justify. With a better screen or a lower price tag it might be able to carve itself a niche in the market, but as things stand we just can't recommend it.
It's not a total disaster - it's got a lot of juice, media is handled well and it does a good job of the basic acts of calling and messaging people. But plenty of other phones tick those boxes too, without stumbling in quite as many other areas as the Sony Xperia Miro.
The Sony Xperia Miro was always going to struggle to stand out. The budget phone market has become incredibly crowded, and even Sony itself has a couple of other handsets that aren't dramatically different.
Thanks to a weak screen and generally underwhelming performance, the Sony Xperia Miro is pretty much dead in the water. It has an impressive battery life and good media options, but they're not enough to save it from mediocrity.